After getting slammed by the market today, speculation is now mounting that Nokia may become the next acquisition of software giant Microsoft.

Analyst Eldar Murtazin at Mobile Research Group said that he believes the two companies are discussing the sale of Nokia's mobile division to Microsoft for $19 billion.

According to my source, which was correct in the past, it is the kind of deal that is coming this year, Murtazin told the Seattle Times. They have a very short time frame for this deal because the main problem for Microsoft is that Elop will be on sale of company.

His reference was to Stephen Elop, the Nokia chief executive who came to the company from Microsoft, where he was president of the Business division.

Nokia has flat out denied the rumors, calling them completely baseless, but the comments echo what analysts have speculated as early as My 15.

For now the results of the negotiations won't be public, but the deal might close before the end of 2011. Both companies are in a big hurry, Unwiredview's Stasys Bielinis said last month.

And while Nokia continues to deny the rumor, Wall Street believes it could do well for the companies and even competitors.

We believe reports... highlighting the potential for a Microsoft purchase of Nokia for $19 billion should provide Apple investors with even greater confidence that the company can continue to gain market share at the expense of legacy vendors in the mobile phone market, Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities wrote today.

White, who follows Apple, went as far as to say such a purchase would help Apple.

In our view, Apple investors could not ask for a better deal, and we believe a transaction would only further Apple's market share gains in the coming quarters.

Microsoft declined to comment.

Nokia was downgraded by Goldman Sachs, Sanford Bernstein and Canaccord Genuity on Wednesday.

Shares plummeted 4.8 percent, or 34 cents to $6.68 by the close of the New York Stock Exchange.